Rural Nkandla school matrics gets 180 distinctions
Durban - The matric pupils at a rural Nkandla school with no toilets, running water, or electricity, achieved 180 distinctions in 2016.
Bizimali Secondary School’s matrics got an 88% pass rate thanks to the dedication of their teachers and principal. Four pupils got 26 distinctions between them. There were 11 As in physical science.
Bizimali is in Nhloshane and falls under the Ngono tribal council. It is about 100km from KwaNxamalala, President Jacob Zuma's village.
The school has 55 teachers, led by principal Ntandoyakhe Ntuli. In 2016, 394 of the 453 matrics passed.
Sabelo Gina, head of the science department and a Grade 11 and 12 physical science teacher, said the results were achieved under enormously challenging circumstances.
“Last year we had a 78% pass rate so we are very proud of the quality of pupils that we are producing.”
When Gina arrived at the school in 2005, principal Ntuli’s dedication to the children made an impression on him.
“That man is a true example of a leader,” he said.
Bizimali is a quintile one school, which means parents do not pay fees. The majority of the more than 1 700 Grade 8 to 12 pupils are from impoverished households.
“Most of the children come from all over the province because they want to improve their maths and science. So our challenge is how to keep improving maths and science with the little resources that we have,” Gina said.
‘You cannot look the other way’
He said the school was severely affected by the drought. Water tankers used to bring water. At times, teachers would hire cars to get water for the children to drink and to flush the toilets.
At times, teachers fetched water themselves.
“Sometimes we have to take money from our own pockets to buy the children food, because once a child tells you of his or her struggle, you cannot look the other away or pass the problem onto the principal. Your main thought is that for this child to pass my subject, they have to have something in their stomach.”
The teachers were parents, nurses, and counsellors to the pupils. When the children fell ill, teachers took them to the nearest clinic.
Last year, teachers asked parents to allow the matrics to stay at homes closer to the school so they could focus on their studies. A forum was established to ensure that the children were safe.
The school hours for matrics were from 06:00 to 15:00, and then again from 18:00 to 22:00.
He said teachers spent their own money and sacrificed time with their families, for the children and for a better country. Gina said principal Ntuli had instilled this culture of dedication and hard work. His high expectations of the teachers kept them going, Gina said.
In 2015, the school’s generator broke down. Ntuli spoke to the school governing body and new, smaller generators were bought. However, buying petrol for them proved expensive.
"So we improvised with candles because at the end of the day, we needed to get the job done," he said.
New toilets had been constructed, but with the shortage of water, it wasn't always possible to make use of them. Gina said the female teachers and pupils used them, and the male teachers made use of the old pit toilets.
However, with the drought, children were forced to go deep into the bush to relieve themselves when there was no water for the toilets.
Although the school ordered stationery from the department, they still had to share books and teachers had to make copies.
But none of these difficulties took away the pride they had in their pupils, Gina said.
“It has taken years of hard work. We have produced lawyers, doctors, and even journalists. It’s just that the media has not noticed.
“It makes us proud when our children are recognised, when our principal and our district are recognised.”